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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  June 4, 2011 8:15pm-10:00pm EDT

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tells the inside story of what has happened in mexico, the extraordinary upheaval in their society and because he tells it from all angles, you come to understand who is responsible for it. is not just the gangs. the government there's a responsibility as well and it has a huge effect on the united states as drugs obviously from mexico are all over the united states. >> american prices. spigel faller is a distinguished professor of history at northeastern and we were talking a few years ago and he said he wanted to write a book about the famous george washington in newburgh in 1783 right after the war that supposedly ended but the war had ended and i said to bill i thought he had to write a larger story about the years 1781 to 83. we think that the war ended in 1781 when cornwallis surrendered to george washington at yorktown. in fact it didn't end for two more years until the british
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forces were led out of new york in november of 1783. this is the story of those tumultuous and dangerous two years the united states could have so easily fallen apart in those years. they had no money. the states were not alive. they would not give any money to pay the armies of the army was on pay. the army was on the verge of mutiny. the treaty with paris had not been signed yet so the country was in complete chaos and in many ways washington held it together during those two years and that is what this book is about. >> those are some of the books that are coming out in the fall of 2011 from bloomsbury. if you would mr. gibson give us a snapshot of bloomsbury press. >> bloomsbury is more than just bloomsbury press. blimp very usa has the plumes -- meg bloomsbury walker ann, bloomsbury the main imprint does a lot of fiction, natural history and some sports related titles. bloomsbury press does the
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history and science and current affairs in economics and the walker list does some history and science as well, some self-improvement books and a lot of language books. >> are you selling more e-books than you are hardback books at this point? >> not more but we are selling a great many e-books. e-book sales of roger matta clean the last six months as they have for every publisher since christmas. they have exploded so we are selling many more of of them then that we were at this time last year and it has become a significant part of our business. >> how would you like to see the google book settlement and? >> happily. you know, i don't know i would want to comment on it as a publisher. you know i think that is obviously what google wants to do, making books available is very important, spreading knowledge is very important but it is also critically important that authors and publishers are compensated for intellectual property.
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so i don't think i would comment on it beyond that. >> george gibson is the publisher of limbs very press. thank you for a few minutes. >> thank you. >> now on booktv david sirota examines the political and cultural landscape of the 1980s. he argues that the social and political mores of that time set the stage for what it calls a militaristic and narcissistic america. it is about an hour and a half. [applause] >> thank you. can everyone hear me? here is how it is going to work tonight. first of all thank you everybody for being here. i will just tell you how does going to work. i'm going to give a presentation about my new book, "back to our future" which you can see right there and then nathan and i are going to sort of go back and forth on some questions and the aston nathan to be here because some of his work is an inspiration for some of my work.
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so i really appreciate you being here. and then we are going to take questions from the audience. but before we begin i just want to do some of my own thank yous. i want to thanking these timed -- in these times for organizing this event and the university of illinois chicago for hosting us here. i want to thank c-span booktv for covering this event. i opposite want to thank nathan again and the onion av club. and i want to thank all of you for being here and for being interested in this book. the name of the book is back to our future, how the 1980s explain the world we live in now and to make his presentation a little bit fun i've included a kind of a trivia question, trivia contests. not really a contest to see if you can answer the trivia questions as we go through this. the overall thesis of the book is as the subtitle says. it is the 1980s and in
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specific both the political and pop culture of the 1980s, still very much informs the way we think about the world today. and it should be pretty obvious and i will just start with the first light. this slide to river to make and i did make all of the slides and they took absolutely forever to make so hopefully you'll like them. it is pretty obvious, should be pretty obvious to anybody that the 1980s -- let me turn this on here. the 1980s is back and here are some examples of how the 1980s are back at least in our popular culture. we have top gun, they are remaking top gun now. we have got rambo. they just remade rambo. these are just some examples and i won't read them. tron, the a-team, g.i. joe, hulk hogan, back in the 80's. he is now kind of a reality tv celebrity, the lakers and the
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celtics in the championship, apple is big and then it went away for a while and now apple is big again. it should be pretty obvious that the 1980s is back and for various reasons i argue in the book, it is back. i don't think it is just because of the nostalgia factor although that is certainly a factor. also there are some coincidences. i've mentioned on my radio show a couple of days ago the weird coincidence, although you may see it not just as a coincidence but 25 years ago almost to the exact week, and certainly to the exact month the united states military was bombing libya and the world was wrapped with a detention about a nuclear meltdown at chernobyl. those two things happened almost exactly 25 years ago to the month. so as much of this is pop culture, some of it is very real.
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and what i argue in the book is that the popular culture of the 1980s, the iconography of the 1980s in many ways has inspired the way we look at real-world events and how real world, i guess you would call them actors, behaved today. so here again are some examples. you up at the that the main character from top gun. this was replicated by george bush. quite obviously. you had rambo in afghanistan. you have a war in afghanistan. and a lot of the way we describe it is about the rambo's in afghanistan. obviously gordon gecko and then comes bernie madoff and the ripoff artists on wall street. the evil guy from tron, and i'm only half joking here, and mark zuckerberg. the a-team, the idea of the
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private contractor that you have to hire to picture problems for you is kind of in some ways blackwater or at least our reliance on private contractors and how we think about private contractors. and the evil guy, cobra in g.i. joe, was a very -- and interesting in the research in the book was a clear allusion to islamic fundamentalists terrorists. what i argue in the book is that these images, these stories became powerful in the 1980s and enduring because of certain structural changes happening in our economy and i told nathan by e-mail that i was going to do this. i stole and used one of the cover graphics of nathan's book to sort of highlight how this happened. but an argument in the book is that things changed in the
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1980s in a way that made the story lines and the iconography of the 19 '80s stick in a way that they never had and so here are some examples. bearish or graphic. that is nathan's cover. the 1980s was the first decade of most americans have a tv and vcr and cable system in their home and almost half had video game systems in their homes. the 1980s was also the time of the rise of synergy. these two things are connected. synergy meaning you see products across multiple platforms. you see stories across multiple platforms. there is mr. t. cereal and there is an e.t. commercial or the happy meal e.t. so the story, the ideological story and we will get into it though stories were but the ideological stories and pop culture were being told in multiple platforms in multiple venues in a country that was more saturated with that media than ever.
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and you also had total integration by the mid-1980, by 1983. 50 companies controlled most newspapers, magazines, tv stations and movie studios so you have an entire architecture for the first time where the stories of pop culture and politics can be sold to us in a way, and sold in particular to children, anyway that that is more integrated and synergize than ever before. so, here is what i mean by a land of confusion. here is the phil collins thing from the land of confusion. this is sociological research that we have learned since the 1980s. tv and movie characters can shape how we look at were world events. fiction and back in shape our perceptions of the world even more than reality and especially among children. we have learned we have learned that since the 1980s and what is particularly important in addition to the saturation and
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the synergize asian and the integration from the 1980s was the fact that a lot of pop culture was beginning to ripped straight from news headlines. this is a quote from a video game executive and the 1980s, just to highlight what i'm saying about that. coin-op designers take anything remotely in the news and make it a game and here are some examples. this is operation wolf, contract, guerrilla 1980 video games to the point here is just to say that not only did you have an integrated really top down instrument to sell everyone and particularly children certain storylines, but you had many of those entertainment products actually stealing right from the real world headlines to blur the distinction between reality and fiction.
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so, the first chapter in my book looks at how this played out and how the 1980s revised and changed our views of the 1950s and the 1960s, because this irq and i think everybody who has been following politics would probably knowledge, this continues to be the battle that frames our politics. everything seems to be the 50s versus the 60s and i don't think it is the actual 1950s versus the actual my teen 60s. i argue in the book, it is the 1980s version of the 1950s versus the 1980s version of the 1960s. these two characters through this one actor, michael j. fox, think epitomizes what we are being told in the 1980s about the 1950s and the 1960s. so let's start with marty mcfly. here is marty mcfly. so, let's think about the storyline of the movie back to
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the future. one of the most popular movies of the 1980s, total cultural touchstone. here is the storyline of michael j. fox. v. he is a teenager fleeing modernity and what does modernity look like to alex. i am except the characters. marty mcfly. i don't know if we can hear the audio. is the audio working? i don't think the audio was working. can we see if the idea can work? do we have the tech guide to see if the audio can work in here? i will try to get through it without the audio working. can you guys hear that? can you guys hear that?
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>> okay, so that is, that is modernity. that is what he is fleeing and where does he flee to? ♪ so he flees to this idealized version of the 1950s and this wasn't the only movie that was doing this. this wasn't the only cultural product that was doing that. this is dirty dancing, music that was happening with the revival of rockabilly music, zz top. this is the outsiders. billy joel, hoosiers, even the superman movies were about a 1950s idea of metropolis. happy days and then what comes out of this is the ultimate warrior on behalf of the 50s, ronald reagan.
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so, how did the 1980s create the 60s? basically making fun of the 1960s as a time of hippies who weren't realistic about their aspirations, who were sort of predict it was in this television show, family ties, is one of the best scene, best-selling, best selling television shows in history. the show was designed to be a show that kind of idealized the parents and i interview them before the book, the creator of the show who said when they showed it to test audiences, the audiences were much more enthralled even with the backlash character through the 1960s. here's an example of how this show framed the 1960s.
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>> is this a permanent position? because if it is i am getting on my bomb so people can throw pillows. >> the banner is a surprise from map. we had this hanging in art dorm room at berkeley. >> it is a little outdated is that? >> maybe the slogan is now but the concept is is the same. >> knowing that the concept. >> alex don't you ever worry about the fact that there are enough bombs in the world to destroy every living creature in and wipe out life as we know it? >> hey, i've got bigger things on my mind. [laughter] >> tell mattie is one of the neighbor children. >> he is just so predictable, that's all. anytime one of these x hippies comes prancing in from yesteryear we have to get out the. >> that is the key lime. this is the wool crumb of comedy in the 1980s when it comes to
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generation of comedy. the 60s are ridiculous. the 60s are to be laughed at in the 1950s were a great time of unity, of patriotism, all of the clichés that still dominate the way we talk about the 1950s in and the 1960s today. all the clichés that still dominate our politics. this is echoed in all sorts of cultural products are good the big chill, if you watch the big chill, the ag sector in my book about the big chill. you have to listen to what they are saying in a big chill. there are absolving themselves for leaving behind their 60s ideals and this becomes a major way we talk about the 1960s and the 1980s. so, how does this play out in our time? well you have got all these products that come out of the 1980s that continue the
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glorification of the 1950s and i want to be clear. when i talk about the 50s, the brand of the 50s i'm talking basically about the end of the world war ii to the jfk assassination when we talk about the 60s we are really talking about the i.d. of the 60s from jfk's assassination through to the mid-70s. out of the 80's you get these brands that kind of idealized the 50s. video videogames, the hard rock cafe, the swingers craze, and then in the 60s what we have done to the 60s subsequently is basically commodified the 60s and to fund things that take out all of the politics, all of the idealism, all of the principles of the 60s and these are just some examples. no disrespect to these examples. i love some of these examples. out -- how does this play out in our politics? this is where it gets really interesting and again when i say the 50s and 60s i'm talking about the 1980s version of the
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50s and 60s so let's look at presidential election by a presidential election. 1988 presidential election you have an aristocats running against a first-generation working class democratic candidate. what is the tactic to defeat the democratic candidate? the aristocrat turns himself into a picture of the 1950s. if you read his rnc nominating speeches is all about how we supposedly grew up in a shot gun house. this is the grandson of a senator. this is the picture of american aristocracy who turns himself into this and how does he take down the democrat? flagburning. the image of the supposedly unpatriotic 60s and he turns them into this. that is what it becomes. how does it go in 1992? so now you have got this out of touch president who doesn't even know what a supermarket scanner is, right? versus a guy, and this is kind of on the edge.
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bill clinton this picture of him on the edge of the 50s right at the pentacle of the jfk camelot situation. george bush tries to turn himself into the fighter pilot from the brand of the 50s. and he uses allegations of burning draft cards in protesting the war to try to make america see bill clinton as this. now granted that is bill clinton. [laughter] in 1996 it plays out again. you have bob dole, a constant washington insider running as a conservative democrat in his tactic is to turn himself back into the 50s. and say that bill clinton is as liberal as the image the presidential image of the 60s, lyndon johnson to try to turn bill clinton into this. here is bill clinton was george mcgovern and granted that is bill clinton. and in 2000 again, again it plays out, you have the threat
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boyd aristocrat george w. bush running against an actual vietnam war veteran and it becomes this. he turns himself into this. besides al gore's 60 seeming interest in him are meant to turn al gore into basically a 60s grown-up yuppie. so this continues to play out. are right now with little bit of trivia. we are going to break this up and to trivia questions just to make this a little fun. we are going to give you the answers in the end. what was the name of the song that patrick swayze performed on the dirty dancing soundtrack? if you want to write them down just to follow along, have some fun. see if you can get it. a i've had the time of my life, b she's like the wind, c avian the corner, and d hungry eyes. what famous actor played the corpse in the big chill?
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christopher reeves, harrison ford, all at altman or kevin costner? no yelling out. and, here's a third question from the section. what city is the outsider said in? omaha, tulsa, amarillo or d topeka. okay so i will give you the answers in the end. the second chapter the book and i'm just going to go through about three chapters of this and then we will have a discussion. how did the 1980s deify the individuals, the cult of the individual? this is obviously a very
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important image and we are in chicago and i'm sure there are are a lot of jordan fans out there so you'll be happy to know this chapter focuses a little bit on my book jordan. but that image becomes this in the 1980s, which then basically it's a race from its context and becomes this. this is ardently one of the most famous images out of the 1980s, one of the most famous images and branding history. and to use michael jordan as an example of how we started to really deify the individual in a way that we have never deify the individual before and again he is just one example, but here are some of the things that were being said about michael jordan in the 1980s. i think he is god disguised as michael jordan. chinese kids listed jordan and communists leaders as the two greatest men in history. this is from a poll of chinese kid in the 1980s. "washington post" calls in the most famous man on earth.
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fellow nba player preferring to jordan as jesus in nikes. this is again an example of how in the 1980s we started deifying the individual who could soar above his team. this gets actually further decontextualized even for michael jordan. just becomes this image. it doesn't even matter that it is mike will jordan anymore. this becomes i argue in the 1980s, a cult of the individual. this is a time when a lot of the self-help industry begins to explode. we see in a lot of our popular culture the movies and television shows about how the individual is the savior of society. societal institutions cannot take society into itself. here are just some examples of these iconic products, these iconic cultural products that say the individual can save
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everybody. and they save everybody with lines and i had to include this because it was my favorite line, probably my everett line from the 1980s because it is so preposterous. >> the individual guy who blows away everybody in order to save the entire situation and then this becomes this. >> my main man and michael jordan. is it the haircut? >> no boss. >> think about what this commercial which is one of the most famous commercials of the 1980s, says. it says not only should the individual be worshiped but there is honor in being mars black man. there is honor in actually being the worshiper. it is actually deifying the idea of worshiping the individual. so what does this mean and real-world terms beyond michael jordan and the 1980s because
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the time when we start seeing individual gurus as our saviors. religious gurus. ceos, individual ceos who will come in and save companies themselves individually on their own. oprah winfrey become somebody who literally can say the name of the book, the name of the product and it can be sold to millions of people who really don't ask many questions about that. howard stern, rush limbaugh and as i mentioned before the self-help industry. that is tony robbins. the 80's saw huge growth in the self-help industry and when we think about the self help industry as it is focus on the self. and what did this look like today in our politics? the deification of the individual? i think in our politics it started with a lot of the things that came out of ronald reagan's
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administration. one of the key things and one example, the idea of the unitary executive. that comes right out of ronald reagan. he said anything we do is in our national interest. that is a direct quote from our reagan. that happened just a couple of years after the nation looked with concern when richard nixon said whatever the president does is legal. just a couple of years later ronald reagan was famous to great fanfare and in our presidential politics this metastasizes into stuff like this. you get george bush now and nobody blanks and i or not enough people blink an eye when he says things like this. god wants me to be president or when he says i'm the commander. somebody needs to explain to me why they something i don't feel i need to 20 anybody an explanation for anything. unfortunately becomes barack obama. we have seen a similar example. this is a direct quote from barack obama. i'm a better speechwriter than
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my speechwriters. i know more and policies than any particular issue in my policy directors. here stayed is coming right at you. look at this quote. one 11 sf related send and in all saying you are more -- make the michael jordan he said just give me the ball. these are just examples, but i highlight this because so much of our politics today is about saying i'm not going to ask if a citizen questions about what people are doing. i'm not going to ask is a consumer questions about what i'm being recommended. i'm simply going to say if my guy or my guru says i should do this, then that is what i'm going to do because i had been taught through so many different parts of my culture that the individual deity is the person for me to follow. i can actually outsource my cognition to the guru. a little bit more trivia. what film was by glee's first feature film?
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a she has got to have it, it d to the right thing, c malcolm x, d colors. what is the name of jack burton nemesis in big trouble in little china? david low pan, wang or mr. fuji? what famed singer performs an ode to america right before apollo creed is killed by ivan drago? aretha franklin, tony bennett, james brown or cher? i can't believe they put cher in there. let's get to what, how we go in the cold of the individual to the cold of narcissism. how do we go in the 1980s from both saying that the individual guru is to be followed and listen to to the cold of me, to the cult of focus on me. if you have the gurus banner
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above the rest of us, how can you also have a culture that is saying you can be yourself, the superhero? watch this commercial. ♪ >> the brilliance of this commercial is the putting together of images of regular people with superstar so watch this one example from this commercial in slow motion. that is a regular kid playing basketball going up or a layup and it immediately becomes michael jordan dunking a basketball. the idea probably come in a think it was listed by "fortune" magazine as the number two or number three most enduring slogan in slogan history of just
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do it. so not only are they great individuals that soar above institutions and you can't trust institutions. you can only trust individuals but if you will yourself, you can be a michael jordan in whatever you are doing. the phrase of course is just do it. i use this an example of the larger ethos, but i'm guessing everybody in this room has heard the slogan just do it. if you haven't you have probably been living in a cave or not in this country but this is a global brand so you probably haven't been living on this planet. what did the 19 '80s say just do it really mean? how did the 1980s to find just doing it? greed. making as much money as possible. and this is famous and i cite this because this movie was of course wall street making fun of or trying to question all of
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this, but this was questioning this kind of spirit at a time when so much of the pop culture was saying the american dream just doing it as an individual means making a lot of money. it means making a huge amount of money. that becomes the american dream in the 1980s and these are just a couple of examples. >> here is tv, the same thing. dallas. dynasty. and even for kids, silver spoons, right? just doing it means accumulating a huge amount of wealth. that is the definition of the american dream in the 1980s and in the lifestyles of the rich and famous of course.
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now, let's put some data behind this. this is the percentage of americans at the same time this is happening who say they belong to a local club or organization. 1985, 15% of americans say they are engaged in some way and a civic organization. by 1995, that number is almost cut in half. that is a huge decline. here is a study of the top goals of college freshmen, an annual study. this is the metric, being very well off financially, 1980, 62%. in 1990, 72%. put this up against the data about what college freshmen were saying that they wanted to get out of college other than money. so there is being well off financially.
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that is the line you just saw and here is developing a meaningful philosophy of life. watch this number. 1980, 1990. it goes from 62% to 45% at a time when the culture and when our politics of course, when ronald reagan is saying millionaire ceos are "heroes of the 1980s." a couple more trivia questions. who boasted lifestyles of the rich and famous? robin koh cory, robin leach, robin ventura, which real-life taken gave a speech that inspired gordon gecko's greed is good oration? donald trump, ivan boesky, michael milliken, george soros? what was the principle commodity being speculated on in trading
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places? wheat, soybeans, pork bellies or frozen concentrated orange juice? what was montgomery brewster's job before he inherited 30 million bucks and extra points for somebody who knows the name of his employer. minor-league baseball player, a janitor, a limousine driver or a bartender. we will get to the answers in the end. here's the last section and this is the section most near and dear to my heart. the idea of "going rogue." we have gone through how the 19 '80s deifies the individual. we have gone through how at the same time it is deifying the individual is saying you yourself can become a michael jordan. so how then to explain what the institutions, what government for instance is still doing well? if you are saying the only thing that can be done well is through the individual, how do you explain the regular mundane things that government is doing
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well? you can't really deny them. >> i'm not a role model. i'm not paid to be a role model. i am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. parents should be role models. just because i dunk a basketball doesn't mean i should raise your kids. >> now in fairness, he is my favorite basketball player. i grew up in philadelphia and i really couldn't stand michael jordan. let's get that out of the way. this commercial does come in early 1990s and in my book i defined the 80's as the reagan era all the way through until mighty 92. this commercial embodies what a nike exec is called the idea of the outlaw with morals, the idea of the rogue, that you can
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explain the way things happen in society and institutions as either the outsider to force institution to do something or somebody inside the institution went rogue, went lawless against institution. charles barkley is the ultimate idea of the outlaw with morals, a guy who is saying, who is really yelling at you, almost lecturing you saying i don't follow any rules and nike made a market out of this. these are the key nike icons other than michael jordan, that they focused on, the outlaw with morals. that was john mcenroe, berkeley, bo jackson, andre agassi and deion sanders are some examples of this. the idea that to go rob, to go lawless, to go against institutions and societal marmots is a good thing and explains how good things happen in society.
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and he gets it gets echoed in tv. magnum p. i, hahn solo. the last name of hans solo, hahn solo, one, well. highway to heaven. you need to we are traveling hitchhiking angel to save you from the problems your government won't fix. the equalizer, spencer for hire, moonlighting and look at this. this is the fall guy, stuntman turned bounty hunter on the cover of a children's magazine. this is a children's magazine. hardcastle and mccormick and the like, and you get that in real life. up here is the rise of the guardian angels. remember that in the 1980s? and one of the big news stories in the 1980s is the bernie goetz case which is all about this. and you have got shows like
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this. this is night liar. listen to the intro to this. ♪ >> knight riders. eyeshadow refined into the dangerous -- of a man who does not exist. >> this is the fourth most popular shows of children in the 80's. >> a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless in a world of criminals who above the law. >> okay so think about that. a young loner on a crusade to fix the problem that your government and your society won't fix on its own. and it is a code also in the dukes of hazard. >> the listen to what it is saying. >> just a good old white. ♪ never meaning no harm. ♪
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been in trouble with the law since the day they were born. >> not only are they fixing problems, but they are actually in trouble with the law for fixing our problems. they don't mean any harm. they are in trouble with the government for trying to fix your problems. now the ultimate example of this my favorite example of this because it is so egregious and this is the most popular program among kids two to 11 years old when it was on in the mid-1980s. let's take a look at what the a-team is saying. >> in 1972 commandos were sent to military court for crimes they didn't commit. they promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade. today still wanted by the government they survive the cultures of fortune. if you have a problem that no one else can help you and if you can fight maybe you can hire the
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a-team. >> alright, so let's dissect what we are really being told here. what kids -- 7 million kids aged two to 11 are being told every week. >> in 1972 command was sent to prison by a military court or crimes they didn't commit. >> let's think about what is the crime. what is the crime they didn't commit? they were ordered by their own government to rob the bank of hanoi. somehow that was going to solve the vietnam war. and somehow robbing the bank of hanoi was going to end the vietnam war. when their commanding officer is killed, they don't have any proof that they were ordered to rob the bank of hanoi so they are sent to prison by the government. the government is very evil or good government is ordering them to do ridiculous evil things and they are incarcerated and properly. here is the next line.
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>> a maximum-security. >> let's take a look at that. the government is so inept they can't keep these people in prison. what other way would to from a maximum-security prison then promptly and you escaped to a thriving los angeles underground. the government knows their rough geographic location and they can't find you. >> today still wanted by the government they survive the cultures of fortune. >> again, they are still wanted by the government, government they can't make tina maximum-security prison are shut down a geographically confined underground, obviously can't catch them and they survive as soldiers of fortune. and here is the last line.
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>> if you have a problem, if no one else can help you and you can find them maybe you can hire the a-team. >> okay so what is the saying? no one else can help. here are services that the a-team must provide in their episodes because the government can't. these are literally from the show. they conduct high-level military operations to rescue a hijacked 747 while they're being chased by the government by the way. they bring a rogue cia unit justice. they also are protecting small businesses from larger bullying often violent competitors including two sisters from a factory, an upstart l.a. cap company a small construction company. and of course they rescue the kidnapped. this is really the key part. if you can find this. who can't can find the a-team? farmers, old people, church
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groups, as foreign african country that needs its relatives rescued. rick james. [laughter] hulk hogan and lloyd george. they can find the a-team. who can't find the a-team? the combined forces of the united states national security state cannot find the a-team. so what does this say? this makes the government look like this. probably the scariest scene in any movie as a child. this is what the government ends up looking like two children. this is probably the most memorable movies for children a of the 1980s. this is the take -- e.t.. this is really crazy.
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why disney just knock at the door cracks watch this. that is what the government looks like two children in the 1980s and so how do problems get solved? what is the culture of telling children about the ways problems get solved? they tell children that this is the way problems get solved in society. >> we got it. >> what is it? >> what you have is what we refer to as a class 5 full roaming baker. >> alright the way to solve the problem is to hire the private for-profit company at any cost
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even an exorbitant one. anybody who's been watching politics over the last few years knows that this is so much of what dominates the way we think about politics today. and that is that we think of, we hear so much in our political rhetoric that the government can't do anything right, that the only people who can be trusted in our society are the private contractors and private for-profit corporations. this continues to dominate our debate. so this is the basic thesis of my book. and i want to close by telling you, so you have the solution of the private contractor but then you also have the solution of the rogue, to go rogue from within. this is the final point i want to make about this because we so -- hear much about going broke, the maverick. this came straight out of the 1980s. so much of the icon eye, or fear the 19 '80s saying the weather way the problems get solved are by people inside the government
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who defy the laws. here are just some examples. and the ultimate line that epitomizes this ethos is this line from lethal weapon two. >> you have just been revoked. >> a copy in a laterally saying that i will break the law and order to solve society's problems. and out of it comes real-world examples. this is the last, really the last image i will leave you with is this becomes a real spirit inside of her government. when he refrained since ali north's testimony it is all
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about how he was "going rogue" on behalf of a american national security. so, i realize i have thrown a lot of you here and i am going to talk to nathan about how all of this is stock stuck in whether all that has that but my fundamental argument in this book is that for so much of the culture, so much of the pop-culture that we thought was not important, that didn't get critical acclaim in the 1980s, so much of it was reinforcing a lot of what we know about the politics of the 1980s and a lot of what frames the way we think about so many issues today. and i know it is easy to say that entertainment culture, especially not critically reviewed entertainment culture a.k.a. schlock like the a-team, like the dukes of hazard with by the way love both of those shows but it is easy to say they are just schlock. these were sending powerful messages to children, to 80s children who have become today's
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world shaping adults. and i will leave you with the last couple of trivia questions and then i will give you the answers. what was michael knight's name before he was shot in the face and nursed back to health by the foundation for long government? michael smith, michael keaton, michael long, michael kid? what college did charles barkley and bo jackson attend? university of alabama, bob jones university, auburn university, clemson university? what u.s. state is a fictional hazard county supposed to be an? mississippi, florida, alabama, or georgia? and i have got to give you a random quick question. what name game show did cliff craven appear on? go, pressure locke, jeopardy or the price is right? we will go through the answers very quickly. the name of the song that patrick swayze performed what she is like the wind.
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what famous actor played the corpse and big chill, kevin costner. what city is the outsider said in? tolls of. spike lee's first film as she has got to have it. it. the name of jack nemesis is david low pan. what famed singer performs a no to note to america before apollo creed is killed? james brown. robin leach hosted lifestyles of the rich and famous. ivan boesky was the guy with the greed is good speech was based on. frozen concentrated orange juice was the commodity in trading places. minor-league baseball player montgomery brewster was for the hackensack bulls. and michael long was michael knight's name before he was shot in the face and reconstructed by a right-wing foundation called the foundation for long government. auburn university charles barkley and joe barkley attended. georgia was a state where the dukes of hazard supposedly takes
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place and cliff clay bennett appeared in lost on jeopardy. that is my presentation and now nathan and i are going to have a little bit of of the conversation so thank you are listening to that. [applause] the format of this is, nathan and i are going to basically trade-off questions, three questions each and then we are going to take questions from you. i want to just reiterate that i asked nathan to be here because a lot of his work was instrumental in both inspiring my work and i true on a lot of his work, and i should mention of course that he is the author of two books, joel mentioned it before. he. he is the author most recently of the book called my year of flops and before that a book called the big rewind, a memoir
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brought to you by pop-culture. there is a visual aid and nathan is actually going door to door selling the big rewind. >> seriously, a total mark of desperation. i am literally bring in my book to people. >> the book world is not an easy one. do you want me to start? with me start. i'm going to asked nathan a question and then he will ask a question and then we will open it up for questions. my question for you is and by the way this is the first time i've ever met nathan face to face though he's been on my radio show. why think -- i've laid out why we think we are fascinated by '80s pop culture or white still endures. think '80s pop culture right now seems to be so everywhere? >> i think there is a tendency in our culture to have incredible nostalgia for a period of 20 to 25 years hence.
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so i think we haven't gotten a -- i think they are really confusing. i actually wrote a piece thomas is sort of captures the '90s and it wasn't a very good piece because we hadn't really gotten got that gotten a bead on the '90s yet. actually been out to this point nobody had a bead on the '90s. we know the 80's and they are sort of ossified. as you have been saying in your presentation the 80's version of the 50s and the 80's version of the 60s were the ones that kind of have resonance within our culture and i think this again kind of falls a little bit outside the purview of what you wrote about that when i think about the 50s versus the 60s, one of the films that comes to mind is forest gump which was the bush era there were a feel like a lot of people got the idea of yeah the 60s. that was when all those pot crazed people were building a --
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a -- -- beating up their girlfriends and selling crack-cocaine in doing all these things and yet again there was this deification of not just in the sense that of gullibility, of stupidity. you just blindly accept what people tell you he will be fine. if you actually challenge people, try to think of the way the world might work that it doesn't curling and you will be screwed and create misery for yourself and everybody around you. >> and as a follow-up to that, do you think that the 80's doesn't have, at least in my mind, and everybody has a different view of what the 80's was to them but to my mind the 80's doesn't necessarily have super positive connotations to a lot of people. like the manufactured idea of the 1950s state does. so, if the 1980s is something
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that we don't necessarily remember as universally fondly in the american psyche, if there is anything like that, as the 1950s why is it still sort of a source of fascination right now? the i think it is kind of a double thing where the 1950s you know, and in the 1970s and the 1960s are sort of cultural warfare. there was a movie that i saw a week and a half ago. i thought about you and your book when i saw it called music never stopped. do you recognize that at all? >> i don't see movies anymore. i have a 4-month-old baby. >> i would have scoffed at exactly a few years before. it is basically based on a true story and it is about the 1980s and about this father and son that in the 1960s, the father and son had a falling out
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because the son wanted to listen to that crazy hippie music and go see the grateful dead in his father is like, why do you go to college? and then they kind of have this -- they split off and 20 years later, they reconnect but his son had a horrible medical sort of trauma that leads to him being unable to form new memories. the only thing that reaches me and reconnect with who he was when he was this person was the news of the 60s and the grateful dead. so this interesting thing where the father who sorters uses the music as something that tore him apart, something that created acrimony and discord where there was harmony before it is only way to connect with his son. so is this interesting instance of the 80's you know version of you know, versus the 60s a
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kind of fighting and the 60s subculture coming ahead. it is refreshing in part because they're so rarely happens. when you see that narrative playing out, it is generally you know the 50s that kind of conservative vision of who we were and what that means today, that kind of place out. so why do you think the 80's has so much resonance in terms of our current popular culture, terms of our current entertainment and in terms of our. >> look, i think, don't want to oversimplify my book because it is not a simple argument that i'm making and by that i mean i think that some of it is going to dance. i think you can look back and say look 25 years ago almost to the month the libya bombing and a nuclear meltdown, so that is clinton's.
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some of that is we are not facing the challenges that were so clearly presented to us 25 years ago. [inaudible] you and your buddy gadhafi and i have a bunch of t-shirts that say wacky gadhafi. but otherwise. >> but otherwise setting aside all of that, i do think there is nostalgia. i think that branding is easy if you stick with brands that are our denounce you were as red the 1890 resurrect karate kid because you are a hollywood that is banking on those brands having some sort of cachet with people who are party seen them. but i also think that we haven't been telling ourselves yet any different kinds of stories that the reason why for instance ronald reagan is remembered as a "transcendent president" is because many of the storylines embedded in this popular culture that he was reinforcing and
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politicizing introducing his electoral politics, those weren't necessarily the storylines that were dominating and embedded in american politics until the 1980s. i am not idealizing before the 1980s, but you can look at the empirical data. that data point i should do about college freshman when many college freshmen, when you see those data points for college freshmen say their goal is to make a lot of money by going to college and they are not interested in developing a meaningful philosophy of life, that i think says that before that point, there was a different number of assumptions embedded in our culture that were changed in the 1980s, and i didn't have this data there but you can see with militarism, the most amazing stat that i found in the entire research of the book revolves around electra
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cement how in 1981, 50% of americans according to gallup poll said they did not have a sick confidence in the military. by 1989, 85% of americans said they had full confidence in the military, and it was the most respected institution in the entire united states and it remains at those levels ever sense. so, militarism itself is solidified, the idea of the military as the central institution in our society is solidified in the 1980s and so i think to answer a short question in a long way, i think the reason part of it is that we are still speaking the language of the 1980s and different storylines haven't really been introduced to offer up any other kinds of ways that we see our country. ..
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and government is not the solution. government is the problem. you look at that. at the time, the leader of the government is saying, solve your problems yourself. like we're going to cause more problems. we're going to reduce and reduce >> what is amazing is that the chapter that i researched on
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militarism, i think it was in 1880, reagan gave a speech about the vietnam war. and he says the vietnam war was a just cause, which was portrayed as a huge campaign mistake in 1980 at a time when 50% of americans say reagan comes out and gives this speech in the midst of the 1980 campaign, saying vietnam as a just and noble cause. the reason why we lost and i'm paraphrasing. the reason why we lost was streep's hands were tied behind their back and troops were demoralized because when troops go home they were spot on. by the time he leaves in 1988 cars littered the in 1888 he gives almost the same speech.
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it was a line repeated not by rambus. >> it's a review of the trilogy. he helps out his buddy, osama bin laden. and it's pretty astonishing it's a dark hair with antiwar movie. it basically is being a solitary lunatic and basically his mind shattered in vietnam. and when something relatively normal happens come eca, drifter, he turns into a complete lunatic and goes into this and it was all depict the that he was mentally ill. his brain has collapsed and they
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give off a nice, abandon us, could win the war it was what the lefties, draft dodgers. in world war ii -- rambo to, this is not like the solution to broker an shattered mentally. this is the hero. this is james cameron and sylvester stallone depicting sylvester stallone as a cross between jesus and reagan. and he will suffer for our sins and die for our sins. you will win wars by making the other people die. so it's interesting again to see this complete 180. between this complete reverse. >> completely reversed. at end of the 1980s, rick and it's almost the same speech. just cause and noble cause. and there is not a single headline. not a story, nothing.
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a huge campaign outburst. his campaign quoted "the new york times" may lose the election for us. eight years later he says exactly the same thing. not a headline, not a story, nothing. and so, i think you continue to see this in the way we talk about our military to bring it right back to today for going to focus on militarism and why the militarism of the 80 sticks with us today. there is very little questioning of the idea that politicians major job when it comes to the military is to simply defer all power to the quote unquote commanders on the ground. how many times did you hear george bush say that? i want my politicians make decisions about war and washington. this throws out separate knife from a in our constitution has civilian control of the military. in the 1980s, the whole idea of friend randall to reagan is
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the way we wouldn't worsen this country is to micromanage politicians, micromanage or tie the hands of troops on the ground. this is when you talk about war today. when it comes to libya. barack obama is saying i'm not going to tell my commanders and to end the war, what to do about before. it's my job simply to let them do what they do best. it is a fundamentally antithetical story that we are still telling ourselves a new story from an 1880s that we continue to tell ourselves. i want to ask you one more question and i want to because you are popular expert, certainly far more than me. >> so what do you think, is there any are some of the key differences between -- and this is a big question, but between the popular culture of the
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1980s? i'll put it this way. as the popular culture at the 1980s when you look back on a more or less politicized or ideological than the popular culture of today quite >> that's a good question. i think part of it is when i was a child in the 1980s. i think i was relatively unaware. and i think that is one of the reasons why we are powerful because you think about it in a subconscious way. these are set textual messages. they are not trust your government. mr. diaz school may luck out what my plans come together. i think part of it is a feeling sort of of a culture war has heated up a lot. i sort of feel like we have the more violently conflict been sort of ideology in terms things
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are a lot more divisive than ever in the 80s. maybe there is more of a consensus that in my words now i feel like i feel fractured. there is less of a sentence. it's incredibly pretentious and not nothing. so assuming you're going to say it's not pretentious. >> are you saying -- i've been trained think about this. demand is looking back at the popular culture and saying why i can't believe what i was saying to me. although it was -- these are highly rated television shows and movies with millions of children watching. i wonder if we are more aware as they society. if you put the a-team on right now and give it to 7 million
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pre-teens, all i would like to believe that our society now maybe it's the one silver lining of an overly politicized society. some people say that is to meticulously radical message to showing my kids. are we more aware now of the politicalization of our popular culture committee were in the 80s classics >> i don't know. that's a good question. i kind of felt like i did kind of hard inklings of status. when i think about conservative messages in 1980, i think about john keaton. i was never a fan of john hughes. i felt like there were so many messages. for example, i hated the military because chicago and i
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felt like the idea of ferris bueller's day off is basically chicago and everybody inside it and is serving community basically is sort of a place for a wealthy white guy from the suburbs. you can just go in there. the one that really stands out for me and again i might be stretching a little bit as i despise home alone because i felt like it was class warfare. i was identifying with these poor put upon abuse or clutters who are trying to provide for themselves. i lived there partially. and here is this boy who is doing nothing. he isn't chewiness home which cost to enact $9. that would be required to do this. basically he has this giant home
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he basically tortures poor people who are trying to redistribute wealth. now, i wanted joe pesci to murder macaulay culkin. it wouldn't have been quite as popular and it's really pretentious term paper. when i was in college is was all about, and the gulf war were basically the exact same thing. it is this word aggression to protect something we did not deserve to demonize these other people. so i think it not been, you know, i had a little bit that there are messages here. nobody really spoke about that. there was an interesting article about how one of the chefs were kind of national lampoon. thanks for being the late 60s and 70s to cultural,
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anti-syrian. it kind of became magazine to john hughes. and these are people who say let's make fun of people who are poor, people who're different. things like vacation, where they go into the poor neighborhood. and the one black person in the history of john hughes movies. >> actually two nights ago, if you want to see a movie, all of this in chicago boiled down into one sort of pristine example. you have to go back and watch adventures of babysitting. >> a few of the suburbs, you'll get murdered by black people. >> that's right. and so i guess, i mean, i just want to bring it back to what i'm nervous about. what i am nervous about as they mentioned, is the start is
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embedded and is still as it was as it seems to be in retrospect that then? do you think that we are more aware that the messages and their? >> i think these work if people don't think critically. they don't even necessarily process these messages. it just kind of lead. they cause a lot of problems. and i think the answer to this is critically to think analytically and really think what messages have been implemented. you know, what is the subtext? and i feel it is something, especially -- one of the things is just the level of media that you have your it's exponentially huger than the world with it in. growing up the idea of watching
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a movie like, the video. but now i feel like they're such a ridiculous excess of things that is overwhelming and overloading of people are thinking is critically as they necessarily should. >> here is what were going to do. we're going to open it up for a question. you have questions for me or for nathan? we are going to bring around a microphone if anybody has a question. please are questioning shall bring the microphone to you. >> thank you, david. thank you, both of you. the questions for david. i bet there's a lot of interesting stuff in your presentation and a lot to think about and chew on. and i was wondering, i noticed it was a very male dominated presentation vastly. and i was wondering, was that intentional and that you are talking about the very male dominated era? or is it that you are a kind of
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growing up in the 80s companies are icons that fascinated and interested you? or is it that in the book there are more women examples from this time. that played a role. they should read your book or all three. >> and make the point in the book that there are two things happening. on the sense there at the same time, which was much of the, i think, most breeding ways, viewership wise, popular culture products for children were very male dominated. the popular culture was incredibly chauvinistic in certain ways. the one thing i want to say about that visit wasn't necessarily more chauvinistic than in the past because the
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past was leave it to beaver and that kind of stuff. but it was, i say it was particularly relatively chauvinistic because it is being presented at a time when actually the 1980s was a time when women were making some very great strides, that there is a lot of great strides in the women's movement. one of the things i came upon and i talked to you about the chapter on race in my book, about the cosby show, was there was a lot of back-and-forth in many circles about whether the cosby show was good for race relations are bad for race relations. but my chapter focuses on is what the white audience seems to demand some 1980s of african-americans in public life. and one of the things that came out of the debates over the issue of race on the cosby show was that the cosby show
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mitigated, at least this is what some of its defenders say, mitigated criticisms of ways that showing the more economically typical experience and was vindicated by people who say it is showing women in very, very commanding roles, and almost hero roles. claire huxtable is almost hero of the show in many ways. i just say that as an example to see the gas in the gas in the book i the podiatrist vat is it so much of the most iconic popular culture of the 1980s remain persistently chauvinistic and strangely at a time when women were actually making real strides in actual society. >> rate. to kind of add-on that, you know, you're talking about burning your draft card and for
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me some of this is from the way the left allowed the reactionary right to really in terms of the feminist movement. you know, i remember the kids think you might come away as the background when they wanted and women to be equal. you know, they wanted quality. why could people possibly object to that? i think what happened was in the 1980s we allowed the right to be character feminist message shrill, tower extremists who hates men do much apart this witchcraft and sacrifice children to the devil, which no one actually ever says and other people feel. so i think that was part of it. as far as i know, that idea of a burning never have been. that you have a narrative like that. women are incredibly silly if they think their big problems
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and not the fact that we live in a violent, misogynistic society. and again, the very silly narrative is something get us off the hook and confront the fact that our society is still messed up in a whole of ways. >> at the end of the day is hollywood newspapers, which as you showing our call and a 50 companies across the country that are controlling the current populations perception of the world. some in the 80s, they were not thrilled with the fact that by may 1980 there were more women
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blasphemes. they are not going to depict that on our show because they are the ones running the show. >> i want a very quick point about that because i've been asked this but the pop culture at the 1980s create the 1980s board of the pop culture the 1980s reflected in the 1980s? ronald regan create the 1980s or is the reflection in the 1980s? i think in some ways it is sort of boat in this way, that if you interview people who make entertainment products, all they want to do is sell. they want to sell tickets. lowest common denominator sell tickets. they are trained to meet the population in the shortest of short and really think the population is. in that sense, popular culture you look at is kind of an archaeological carbon dating to
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use a terrible metaphor of where people think their world is. especially in the network television where there are five shows. network television that he feels the latest evidence. that's where those screenwriters -- the typical screenwriter wasn't like i want to sell the message to america. it was like a ticket to america as quickly as they came in as profitable as i can. ratings suggest a lot of them were ready. but he also thinks there is some meiosis or do absolutely right, that in this domain where people are, it is those assumptions are made but i assume you are here so i can't challenge you with anything. and i actually don't want to challenge with anything, even if what i'm challenging with israel. so there is really the same
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meiosis and remains committed a truism of entertainment product that it hopes shapes and is a reflection of the shaping. i think again back to the issue of women's progress in the 1980s, i think it was in part both we don't want to challenge the audience who scare the audience with what is actually happening, the white male audience with what is actually happening. and we don't necessarily want to -- we don't want to scare off people, even if we are telling the truth. >> way. and to kind of get back to liquid narratives have president. and i've played a lot of trapezes about how men in their 20s are apparently the worst generation in the history of the world. apparently between the ages of 20 and 29 spend all their time
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eating cheetos and huffing bond and waiting for the next transformers sequel to come out. and there'll be stories about how these men are pretty careful and women have actually exceeded men in almost all respects. and it is interesting to me that the story here is worse than ever and not really exceeding that can in pretty much every sense of the 20s that it's not a story of female progress. it is the story of men's talking. so i think it is interesting we don't want to allow ourselves that narrative. we want to make a narrative of what is happening with heterosexual men is the only thing that matters. do not evening again. i am wondering what dvd idea for the book to focus on the 80s. was it the dramatic change in
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people's attitudes, the freshman attitudes, for example, which was really startling and the militarism of the society. without what dvd idea to study the 80s as an attitude form to me. or did you see that in the 80s culture yourself before that? >> well, here is the not very answer to that question. i can trace at all the way from when i had the idea for this book. i was sitting at home on a saturday night, like a loser. that's what they do. i sit at home and watch reruns. and ghostbusters, which by the way it's on somebody's television somewhere in america at all times. at least one person. and i was sitting there and there was seen on an h. weeded
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out a line on my twitter feed. and given you too much information, but i twittered up some land if you're not watching ghostbusters right now -- i put up half a line and i got flooded back on my twitter feed with people finishing the line and adding new lines. and i am thinking, you know, is 2009 at that point. ghostbusters was 84, 85. so this is a quarter-century old movies. in other people are not only watching it while i am watching it on a cable style of 500 movies, but they are quoting back the movie to me. or something really weird about this. it's like countless numbers of movies. and it inking about -- and thinking about what i was watching. what is so important about the ghostbusters, i am thinking what is the story of the ghostbusters
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and as i said in a presentation from the story of the ghostbusters has become the story in so many ways of this release superheated local moments, but it actually has resonance right now. think about the story of the ghostbusters, not to diagram it too much, but should a terrorist attack on new york city. the government can't do with it, the military can't do with it. the city shuts down. who're you going going to call? you are going to call the private for-profit company. this is the reason, i think, that the movie endures is not just because it's funny, but because to many people it makes sense. and so then the question is, we provided to make sense? because of a terrorist attack
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hit new york city, this is the opposite of what probably happened. even today and awake a nice, radicalized politics, even today, most likely the first response would be the government and the military. even though that is not our politics told the thin out the 1980s popular culture tells us. so wow, we think about faculty think about other things. the stat that really got me with something that's been bothering you for lunch time in the bush era and now the obama era, which is not just militarists. what really irks me and it's really irked me the last two years out of all of these and politics is absolute deference to military officials. the idea we should never question military officials, never question military decisions that our elected officials -- their job is to never question the pentagon.
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when i went back and started thinking about this and looking at george bush's quote because he was more than this on obama. i'm not going to politicize when i'm not going to get in the way of our troops in command. at one point he made some comment, if this were point and click season i'm not going to answer that question. the obeah? commanders are going to her. and that is so fundamentally upsetting to me as an american, somebody who is happy to live in a country that is supposedly different from national security, where whatever the military says is what goes. and i started looking at that and i started thinking back, wait a minute, why does this make sense to anybody? it should make sense to any american. i've even read the constitution. vaguely know what the constitution is. i started thinking about, way before the iraq war or even
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during part of the iraq war when i heard this today not even flinch as much as they should have been flinching. when you start peeling back, it is because these assumptions back to the second on there. particularly children, but even adults get so much of their worldview is not just from real-world events, but from the stories we've been telling ourselves. so that if they long answer to a very good question. >> one more question. >> i don't know from where, but somewhere i can't the impression that basically our culture and government politics repeats kind of every 30 years because essentially the 30s and 60s from the same of thing is basically the 50s. outside of that, one of our options out of this mess that
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you were saying is dominated by media companies is the internet. essentially that is kind of a change under god. and it's titled of the 80s. the city totally happy adventures in babysitting kind of impression and all these other things. i love the 90s. it seems like there is some independent they are and maybe we have a way out of what basically they're feeding us, which is essentially what advertisers want more than the producers of the country. >> you could find no answer. still the thing i want to say is answer the bigger question. the question of the 30 year cycle. when i first started writing this book were started thinking about writing this book, i am most didn't write this book because if i'd come to the conclusion that's what was going on, then that is not interesting. every 30 years things recycle, fine. but that piece of paper. that's not a book.
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but what i -- what this book and maybe this presentation isn't heavy on which you can get some feeling for is what there is a lot in this book is real data about what changed in the 1980s and what has not changed since then. that to me is the most troubling kind of thing, that when you look at our views on the military from 1982 today, there is a sharp curve and a flat line. when you look at the questions about what kids priorities are, and there is a sharp line up towards money and then a flat plane. when you look at sociologist views on narcissism, elf indulgent, narcissistic personality disorder, there is a sharp line up and then a flat line. so i think it is too easy to say that everything that is sold comes back again. and with the political message of this book is that what i am
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troubled by is that flat line and that there hasn't been at least in my mind anybody introducing and i shouldn't say any, but the dominant narrative has not changed in the 1980s, that we elect people who say they are moving into politics for change. and what we get are people saying i will change within the dominant narrative. i will be less militaristic, but is still going to be a militarists. i will be less greed is good, but i'm still going to say wall street ceos should make as much money as they can. so what i am troubled by without giving the conclusion of this book, the reason i wrote this book is to say it's not just you or your cycle. it is not just the pendulous back-and-forth of american politics. we are in a stasis.
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until we realize what got us to this thesis was a departure from where we were going come to realize that it was a change. we cannot release necessarily we have a choice, that we have a choice of a different direction. >> very good. antikickback to what you're saying about the internet. i think the arnett and social networking sites are really fascinating because on one hand their tools to bring people together. and twitter you can have the word follower, which has a hierarchical sort of proper light quality. all y'all must, you know, narrated by being enriched by my thoughts. it's a way to connect, and we depend upon people. it is interesting how quickly how that becomes the system of the superstar in over the last
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year and a half it became a superstar. it became an overachiever come a 2026-year-old guy who was able to crack the code and he was the man of the year. i remember two or three years ago the only time the person of the receipt which was the rightfully pandering and also tapping into this widespread narcissism like i'm the most important person. again, a lot of that comes back to the idea that we can all be michael jordan. there's something appealing about upward social mobility. but when it's divorced from concrete reality, think it takes on a much more ominous connotation. >> so i just want to thank everybody for coming. i really appreciate everybody coming. [applause] i want to think and they stand for organizing this and the university of illinois at chicago for having us here and i want to thank sub to nathan
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rabin and remind you he's going door-to-door. if he doesn't come to your door, and make sure sure to get his vote. he's one of the inspirations for my own vote and he is one of not to be too much of a black man, but one of the people i do follow. so i hope you will too. again, thank you are all coming. i really appreciate it. >> for more information, visit nathan >> well, one of the large displaced or book expo america 2011 is the perseus group. several different imprints are under the name and one of them is public affairs. the publisher of public affairs book is susan weinberg, who is going to tell us about some of the new books coming out by public affairs and some of the future books coming out by public affairs. susan weinberg, where should we
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start? >> hi, peter. it's always great to see you. we can start with a book coming out now called the philanthropy of george cyrus: building open societies. this is a book about george thyrsus gratuities given away billions and billions of dollars to his open society foundation, which is based on its principles and putting his philosophy to work in the real world. he covered programs from around the world and includes an essay called my philanthropy where he lays out his principles and what animates his giving. it's really turned out to be as major business. >> right next to that susan is poor economics. >> poor economics is one of the most exciting big idea books we've had in a while. i machine and asked her are the founder of the mit poverty lounge and they have really pioneered the idea of let's do
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some on the groundwork experiments, observation to learn what really works to development, where we should put our efforts, where we should our money. and they are award-winning, claimed economists whose work work is really getting a lot of attention. when i read the proposal, i thought this is the most important work on poverty i've read since he published micro-finance and social business. and we just thought we had at this though, to. >> now, susan weinberg, to that include the book of micro-lending? >> will this does have some about micro-finance and micro-lending and some of the research on the ground they've done on it. it has lots of other techniques, too. they look so poor people really live and what they will choose to spend their money on when they have money. how they make decisions in the normal flight controlled
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experiments to see what will help in the long run. for example, what is the best way to distribute bed nets against malaria or asking questions when people seem to be getting a little more money. i did buy a tv instead of more nutritious food? you can understand not affect decisions they might make about their lives. >> a very interesting cover with a knot in the corner. >> i think the idea is unkind and not of poverty in the developing world. it's kind of a good motive is really the words that we didn't want any kind of illustration to get in the way of it. >> unnatural selection. >> it's one of those proposals here to do these folks.
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i call her a scholarly journalist and she has worked at places like the chronicle of higher education based in shanghai. she's going back to beijing to be the editor of science magazine for them. but a lot of the say one child policy in china, why so many more boys than girls in china and in via and other places. we say that's funny. she said but does that mean there's so many missing girls. what is going to happen when these boys corrupt and there's no one for them to marry. what will society be like? and she has asked those questions both of society and what'll happen because of that. but she also went back and researched how did this happen? some of that is what we think about one child policy, but some of it has to do with zero population growth and enthusiasm for population control and is
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create unintended consequences. >> that book is unnatural selection, right next to the two books about some troubled nations. >> has come and dance in the glory of monsters about the congo by jason stearns. our editorial are caught this book in from a friend of jason -- the wonderful journalist who has written also about africa she said you know, there's nobody in this is much as stearns. you should talk to him. jason stearns had a big pack of manuscripts, books i'd read it and said there is they will both here and we're going and he and jason went to work together to hone the book. my claim for this book is you can't understand anything in the newspaper about the congo if you haven't read this book because it is that complicated in the news stories are such a tiny piece of the whole and what's
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really happening there. and the reviews have worn us out. "the wall street journal," "new york times" book reviews, "financial times." i could go on and on, but the reviews of this book has been just an amazing response. and you're really seeing people not backing away, but saying i want to know about the story. i want to hear more about the congo. >> dr. paul farmer. >> dr. farmer as you know partners than how has worked so hard to develop air scare in places like haiti, has a very interesting, you know, medical school kind of organization and practicing medicine on the ground in places like haiti. the effect of the earthquake in handy in the work they've done in the level they got to know just that i want to write about
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it. i want to write about what is happening? is the response adequate? is it but it should be? is the aid being used in the best it could be. he also used this as an opportunity to get haitian voices involved in this issue. he talks about how he gets different people involved in haiti that he has known for many years to write about this, too. so paul is not only talking about the hearings, but it's also been able to give voice to people in haiti who went all the brouhaha and for the d. have not necessarily been heard from. >> susan weinberg, the photo on the cover of this is rather powerful. >> it really is. we were looking for something that would convey the mix of emotions you get when you think about haiti in the earthquake in the recovery and it is such a mixture of hope and maybe
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despair of grand plans, but also understanding everyone is so vulnerable. >> we are talking to susan weinberg, the publisher of public affairs books. and over here on your board i want to talk about kelley jacobs new book, the other barack. when this is coming out? tell us about book? >> the book is coming out in july of this year. and this is the book is the subtitle could say better, the only reckless life of obama's father. she said -- he kind of did a profile of obama in kenya, but also not really deep enough. and she said it should select it, i'm going to go in or see the story. she'd never done about before, never found a story to commit to, but she's been to kenya many times. she is talk to everyone that knew barack obama senior and she
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is put together his life story in a way that is riveting, resting, revealing and i say i can't really notice, but i think president obama read this book, he would learn things about his father that he doesn't know. and i think it's an amazing contribution to our knowledge of the president and his family. >> what is that like editing the journals? >> well, it's an interesting process. journalists on the one hand can write very fluently in there used to the idea changes and rewrites. so they're not kind of hugging their precious throne. but sometimes the ark of the book versus its future stories are very different. and i think our editor is often finding that is the thing they most work on and getting the art and the storyline togethe


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